Residents told county commissioners on Tuesday how they think $32 million from a nearly $80 billion opioid settlement should be spent.
Last year, CMPD reported a 5% increase in drug-related deaths. In 2019, 16,500 North Carolinians died from opioid addiction.
Community members were welcome to share their insight and suggestions for the funds.
One speaker, Christopher Griggs, an emergency physician and addiction specialist at Atrium Health, said today’s opiate use disorder is “deadlier than it’s ever been” because of fentanyl.
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Griggs and several other speakers suggested the settlement funds be allocated to long-term recovery.
“It’s really important for us to consider starting a post-overdose response team to provide critical services outside the walls of the hospital and clinic,” said Griggs.
Griggs said many patients transported to the emergency room for overdose deaths declined treatment due to the stigma around opiate drug addiction.
Tony Marciano, CEO, and president of Charlotte Rescue Mission, also said funds should be used for long-term care as Charlotte Rescue Missions’ focus is to “build a foundation” for those in recovery to build stability.
“As you consider all the services that are available to this community, let me encourage you to start with the end in mind.”
Funding to save lives
Some speakers identified themselves as staff or parents from Emerald School of Excellence, a private recovery high school with just 30 students and six staff members.
“I haven’t personally gone through [addiction], but I’ve lost previous students to addiction and don’t want to lose another, nor does any family here in Charlotte,” said Michelle Johncock, a teacher at Emerald. Johncock and other speakers from Emerald said the school does not have the resources needed to treat and prevent opioid addiction in students.
Edward Overton, a local pain medicine specialist, raised similar concerns about doctors lacking funding to provide treatment.
“We have a major logistics problem,” said Overton. “We have to be able to provide low costs or no costs treatments.”
According to a proclamation earlier this month, all money from the settlement must go toward fixing the opioid issue regardless of how the money is distributed over the next 18 years.